RALEIGH – North Carolina Wildlife Commission officials have collected a number of deer heads for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing this season.
More samples than in the past have been sent to the lab in the past two months, and with a few weeks remaining in deer season, agency biologists hope hunters continue to make this year of exceptional surveillance. by submitting samples.
CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, but wildlife biologists say proactive surveillance is imperative to keep the state’s deer herd healthy. The agency’s MDC surveillance efforts are statewide, but special attention is being paid to Alleghany, Rockingham, Stokes and Surry counties due to a positive MDC case reported in County of Montgomery, Va., Last spring just over 30 miles from the border.
“We are counting on the cooperation of hunters, as well as the participation of taxidermists and meat processors,” said Moriah Boggess, deer biologist for the Wildlife Commission. “We have been impressed with the voluntary donations from hunters to our test sample drop-off stations so far and encourage everyone to keep up the good work until the end of the season.”
Agency officials encourage hunters to:
– Voluntarily submit your deer head to any testing station statewide.
Allow biologists to remove your deer’s lymph nodes at a checkpoint. Contact your local district biologist for locations and dates or to arrange a return.
– Report sick deer to the Wildlife Hotline at 1-866-318-2401
– Respect import laws.
CWD remains an imminent threat to the white-tailed deer population and the state’s deer hunting traditions. CWD is caused by abnormal proteins called prions that slowly spread through a deer’s nervous system, eventually causing spongy holes in the brain that lead to death. The disease is spread between deer through direct contact and environmental contamination through saliva, urine and infected feces of live deer or carcasses and body parts. There is no vaccine, cure or cure, and with enough time the disease is always fatal. The Wildlife Commission has monitored the CWD since 1999 through coordinated statewide surveillance. Samples of over 15,000 white-tailed deer have been tested and CWD has not been detected in the North Carolina deer herd to date.
There is no reliable live test approved by the United States Department of Agriculture for CWD, so effective surveillance methods require testing dead deer, primarily hunter crops. The Wildlife Commission makes it easier for hunters to aid surveillance efforts than ever before by setting up more checkpoints in the state and setting up landing stations where hunters can voluntarily submit their deer heads for tests at any time of the season.
The agency’s web page on the CWD, ncwildlife.org/CWD, features an interactive map of landing station locations and allows hunters to view their deer test results.
Testing is important because it is almost impossible to tell if a deer has CWD by observation, as signs of disease are not visible for at least 16 months after infection. The slow incubation period and the ease of transmission are why wildlife biologists say it’s imperative to be proactive and follow applicable regulations.
The importation of whole cervid carcasses (deer, elk, moose or reindeer / caribou) from any state, Canadian province or foreign country is prohibited. If you are transporting cervid carcass parts to North Carolina, you must follow processing and packaging regulations, and the carcass parts or containers of cervid meat or carcass parts must be labeled and identified. .
To date, CWD prions have not been established to cause disease in humans, but closely related prion diseases like mad cow disease have made the jump. The CDC does not recommend the consumption of meat infected with CWD.
Other states already facing CWD have experienced declines in their deer populations where the disease is most prevalent, a decrease in the number of mature males, and some hunters are wary of eating harvested meat. It’s changed the culture and tradition of deer hunting, which Wildlife Commission officials want to avoid in North Carolina.
“Deer hunting is important to the heritage and food systems of North Carolinians. We are ready to deal with MDC if it is detected, but we are doing everything possible to prevent it from entering, ”Boggess said.
The Wildlife Commission recently adopted a comprehensive chronic wasting disease response plan that will be activated immediately if CWD is detected in the state. The response plan was developed by wildlife biologists with input from other state wildlife agencies and in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA & CS) , which manages farmed cervids. Although the NCDA & CS also has a specific plan for its supervision, the two agencies work together.
For more information on the CWD, visit ncwildlife.org/CWD. Deer season dates by region are available here.